Professor Emeritus Reijo Luostarinen in Memoriam
Reijo Luostarinen (1939–2017) established International Business as an area of teaching and research at the Helsinki School of Economics.
Professor Emeritus Reijo Luostarinen (26 December 1939–24 November 2017) was the first Chaired Professor of International Marketing in Finland and one of the founders of the Finnish Graduate School in International Business (FIGSIB). Reijo also established the multidisciplinary International Design Business Management (IDBM) MSc programme that brought together business, art and technology long before Aalto University was formed. In addition, he served as Vice Rector for the School in 1992–1996 and retired from the Helsinki School of Economics in 2003.
Throughout his career Reijo combined smoothly teaching and research with consulting and various advisory roles. He was Chairman of the board of Biohit during 2003-2011 and a founder of several companies. Reijo was an enthusiastic teacher who possessed deep insight into managerial practice and whose stock of practical examples never ended. He maintained a continuous dialogue with top management of major Finnish internationalizing companies all his life.
Reijo’s passion for International Business and first-hand experience inspired many MSc students to write their thesis under his supervision within the FIBO (Finland’s International Business Operations) project. He also had a large number of PhD students whom he guided with devotion in research seminars. In February 2017, the International Business group at Aalto University School of Business invited all doctoral alumni to the School to celebrate the achievement of more than 50 PhDs in 25 years. Reijo had supervised the majority of them. At this event, Reijo gave a memorable and emotional speech about the history of International Business at the School.
As a researcher, Reijo was visionary and ahead of his time. Some of the research questions he raised already in the 1970s and 1980s are still relevant today. He had a very curious and analytical mind and was able to move comfortably between the world of practice and the world of academia. His pioneering research on the internationalization processes of firms is widely recognized and cited by international business researchers all over the world.
Reijo was an active member of several international academies. During his career he established a broad network of personal relationships with leading professors in International Business at top foreign universities, where he also was a regular visitor. The European International Business Academy (EIBA) was particularly dear to him as he was one of the founding members – and he was President of EIBA in 1989. Reijo was often accompanied by his wife, Kirsti, to international conferences. He was very proud to represent Finland abroad and raised the self-esteem of many young Finnish researchers.
The legacy of Reijo’s work lies in processual, phenomenon-based research. He taught several generations of international business practitioners and researchers whose thinking and mindsets he transformed. Reijo was motivated by intriguing research questions and by the desire to improve managerial decision-making. We will always treasure the memory of Reijo as the founding father of our discipline and a wonderful colleague and friend who was a very supportive mentor to younger colleagues in his department.
Instead of flowers, Reijo can be remembered through donations to the Kirsti & Reijo Luostarinen Internationalization Foundation under Liikesivistysrahasto which supports economically disadvantaged students in the field.
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Text: In memory of Reijo Luostarinen